"It's not about how many times you fall, but how many times you get back up”, was coined by Abraham Lincoln, and so many of us use it as a motivating phase to help us through tough times, and recover from failures.
In attacks, fights and physical altercations, the chance of us getting knocked down is more than possible, so it is important for us to know not just how to best fall down, but how to best get up.
I know “getting up” might seem like an elementary topic to teach, just like how to feed yourself or brush your teeth. I mean, how hard can it be. If we fall down, simply get up. However when in a combative situation, there are things we should keep in mind to not only get up safely but position ourselves in a way to give us other self-defense options.
Therefore, let’s first start by learning how to fall properly. Once again, it might seem obvious, and even more so it might seen unnecessary, because if we know we’re falling, why couldn’t we stop it, and just keep on our feet. But, what I have learned through my experience, and watching literally thousands of sparring sessions is that if we do something over and over again, it is easy to do it intuitively, even if we are not thinking about it.
Therefore, the first move I’m going to cover is a “break fall”. When we lose our balance or get pushed, we immediately bend our knees and make sure our rear end hits the ground first. It is one of the more padded areas of our body, and as it hits the ground we round out our backs and roll to our back, where we slap the floor around us to not only disperse the energy, but counter balance to help our head not to hit the ground.
From there, we want to immediately raise one of our legs so the opponent cannot easy mount us, and we have a kick ready and waiting of they get too close. This “defensive” kick is completed by arching our hips up, rolling to our shoulder blades and kicking up and out.
Transitioning with the goal of getting to our feet, we then go to the “offensive” position, which is having one side of our body brace ourselves with our arm, and using the same side leg as a kicking option. That kicking leg can also be brought up and under ourselves to a standing position. This transition is safer than simply getting up, as we would have to turn our back to our opponent. On the contrary, moving the leg up under us, until we can place it, and stand up keeps the opponent in front of us, and actually helps us get to our feet faster.
Putting this together in a quick exercise can help us defend better if we get knocked down, but also helps us get back to our feet and honor Abraham Lincoln, but making sure we get up just one more time than we get knocked down. Simply do a break fall into a defensive kick, into an offensive kick and then finish with a get up (repeat doing the other side, i.e. other kicking leg if you want).
I’ve taught this simple sequence to thousands of students, and everyone quickly realizes how much of a hard workout it is if you log in 20-30 reps. Use it as a workout warm up, or cool down, and you’ll find how versatile you become transitioning from getting knocked down to standing up, while having a couple kicks at the ready to defend yourself.